The term coloratura
refers to the elaborate ornamentation of a melody, which is a typical component of the music written for this voice. Within the coloratura category, there are roles written specifically for lighter voices known as lyric coloraturas and others for larger voices known as dramatic coloraturas. Some roles may be sung by either voice. For example, Donizetti
‘s Lucia di Lammermoor
was famously done at the Metropolitan Opera
for many years by lyric coloratura Lily Pons
, whose voice was quite small and light, but more recently the same role was sung by Ruth Ann Swenson
whose voice is larger and duskier and latterly with even greater effect by Maria Callas
whose dramatic interpretation still casts a long shadow. This way, some dramatic coloraturas have been extremely successful in singing the lighter roles. Categories within a certain voice range are determined by the size, weight and color of the voice.
- Lyric coloratura soprano—A very agile light voice with a high upper extension, capable of fast vocal coloratura. Light coloraturas have a range of approximately middle C (C4) to “high F” (F6) with some coloratura sopranos being able to sing somewhat higher or lower.
- Dramatic coloratura soprano—A coloratura soprano with great flexibility in high-lying velocity passages, yet with great sustaining power comparable to that of a full spinto or dramatic soprano. Dramatic coloraturas have a range of approximately “low B” (B3) to “high F” (F6) with some coloratura sopranos being able to sing somewhat higher or lower.